As the season creeps ever closer and closer and we start seeing peaks with a dusting of snow and forecasts suggesting even more snow, let’s see what the California resorts have been busy with over the summer, and where those millions of CapEx dollars have been spent.
High on the list of spending for most resorts is improved snowmaking facilities. Prioritizing getting terrain open as early as possible for you to shred is becoming ever more essential as the weather and climate evolve.
New lifts are always exciting, and there are 2 under construction. Boreal is putting in a brand new lift, and Tahoe Donner has replaced an aging almost 50-year old chairlift.
Across the state, we’ll see lodge improvements, streamlined lesson experiences, increased parking capacities, Squaw will be going 100% renewable, Mammoth are offering backcountry tours, new terrain parks… the list goes on!
It’s not long now, in 6 weeks we will get to see these improvements for real as yet another, hopefully epic, season begins. Who’s ready?
CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA SKI RESORTS CONTINUE TO INVEST MILLIONS
Following a strong end to last season with a “Miracle March,” Ski California and its 32 member resorts are getting excited about the 2018-19 winter. Here are some highlights:
The 2018-2019 Ski California Gold Pass is on sale now. The Gold Pass is for ultimate snow-sport enthusiasts looking to maximize the ski season and take advantage of skiing and riding at California and Nevada ski resorts. The Gold Pass is the only fully transferable (friends, family, employees can use), zero blackout date pass with access to 32 downhill and cross-country resorts that includes direct lift access at many resorts. Passes are currently available at the early season price of $2,750, with prices increasing on October 1; sales limited to just 100 passes.
The Ski California Mountain Safety Guide returns for its second year after an extremely successful introduction across all member resorts (100,000 guides distributed last year, 72,000 more ordered this year). The guide contains safety education for every resort guest, covering everything from what to do before going to a resort, to loading and riding lifts, navigating potential hazards (including deep snow and avalanche awareness), and understanding trail signage. The guide is offered in digital and print formats. The print version is made of reclaimed stone without using trees or water and is waterproof and tear-resistant. The Mountain Safety Guide received the National Ski Areas Association’s (NSAA) inaugural Safety Impact Award, marking the first time NSAA has honored a state association with a safety award.
Boreal Mountain California and Woodward Tahoe are gearing up for the 2018-19 season with a new lift, the California Cruiser, a brand new beginner chairlift that will help skiers and riders progress from learning the basics to testing their limits on terrain parks, snow features, and jibs. Boreal is also introducing a new snowmaking system installed near its beginner terrain, expanding their “learn to” areas along with other terrain used to teach people of all ages how to ski and snowboard. The new state-of-the-art system will deliver better quality snow and more open terrain. Boreal also has a new parking lot for both Boreal and Woodward Tahoe, which is free to all pass holders and pre-committed buyers.
Diamond Peak has a new lower mountain terrain park, The Village, where park skiers and riders of all levels will enjoy a bigger and better venue to progress their skills via the Red Fox chairlift. The resort also regraded the beginner-friendly School Yard run to make the terrain more welcoming to first-time and beginner skiers and snowboarders. In partnership with the Incline Village General Improvement District’s Waste Not conservation staff and the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science, Diamond Peak will offer a series of guided interpretive ski/snowboard tours of the mountain this winter. Diamond Peak Resort also has been recognized for their sustainability initiatives as the first ski resort in Lake Tahoe to become STOKE Certified. STOKE Certified—the Sustainable Tourism Operator’s Kit for Evaluation—is the world’s first sustainability certification body with standards built specifically for surf and ski tourism operators. As one of the early adopters of the STOKE Snow certification program, the community-owned ski resort has been diligently following their Roadmap Report to achieve best practices in snowmaking, interpretation, waste diversion, and community development.
Heavenly Mountain Resort is offering guided UTV tours that leave from the top of the gondola for a 45-minute ride accessing scenic viewpoints at 10,000 feet elevation. Guides traverse to Blue Sky Terrace and stop along the way to discuss Lake Tahoe, environmental interpretation aspects, along with photo opportunities that are otherwise inaccessible. Heavenly also introduces the Lakeland Village, an expansive retreat right on the shores of Lake Tahoe. This beautiful townhome property boasts 19 acres of lakeside woodlands, and stunning views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra, making it an incredibly scenic place to stay less than a mile from Heavenly Resort. As a Heavenly operated property, guests can buy lift tickets, book ski school and plan the entire stay right on location.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe is in the midst of another $2 million in capital projects designed to improve its mountain facilities and enhance the overall guest experience. Early season operations continue to be a top priority at Mt. Rose with a strong commitment to offering superior quality snow surfaces all season long. Major snowmaking construction includes the installation of 17 new snowmaking towers and additional high capacity pumps. The resort is also adding to its snow grooming fleet, bringing the latest, most efficient technology to the mountain. Facility improvements underway include parking lot upgrades (including a new staircase to lot 5), restroom remodels, and new resort signage including four state-of-the-art LED lift signs.
Northstar California is expanding its on-mountain culinary offerings with a new menu and atmosphere at the ski-in, ski-out Summit Smokehouse, including hand-crafted flavors and a pitmaster that rivals the best in Northern California. Lower in elevation, family-friendly tubing comes to the Overlook above the Village on a groomed, mellow slope. This hike-and-slide experience is available daily, as weather permits, near the ski and snowboard school pick-up location. This addition to the Overlook completes the family experience with an al fresco bar serving beverages and treats alongside s’mores-ready fire pits.
Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows will re-open the Alps-inspired Alpine Meadows Base Lodge with $1.4 million in renovations, including a renovated food court, expanded marketplace, self-serve barista bar, new outdoor furniture, expanded cocktail service, a cozy new family seating area, three new large TVs, and tall beer garden-style tables at Alpine Bar. Beginning December 1, 2018, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows’ electricity supply will come from 100% renewable sources through Liberty Utilities’ Green Tariff program. By signing on to the Green Tariff, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will become Liberty’s largest Green Tariff customer, contributing approximately $325,000 in additional dollars on its electric bill in the first year to help accelerate the transition to affordable renewable energy sources for the utility’s 49,000 customers in the region. With this change, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will reduce its total annual carbon footprint by 49 percent. The resort will also quadruple the size of its POW Parking area, which offers free premium parking to guests who carpool with three or more people. For on-hill improvements, the snowmaking system at Alpine Meadows has been expanded to include the Subway beginner area, allowing this teaching area to open earlier in the season. The Subway area is also home to Achieve Tahoe, a local non-profit adaptive sports program.
Sugar Bowl Resort invested the first $3 million of an $8 million snowmaking system upgrade this summer, doubling its water pumping capacity and reducing both the energy consumption and time it takes to cover its snowmaking terrain by two-thirds. Snowmaking improvements include the addition of over 100 of the project’s new energy efficient snow guns, 17 tower-mounted fan guns positioned in large open areas, and 10 fixed low E stick guns will produce critical early-season snow that will ensure top-to-bottom terrain from the summit to the Village base as temperatures permit. This season Sugar Bowl is committed to operating services and lifts at both Judah Lodge and the Village on a daily basis with access to convenient parking and ski & snowboard school. Sugar Bowl Resort will also offer a dedicated parking area with convenient, slopeside parking for the first 50 families with children enrolled in ski school programs through advanced reservations.
Tahoe Donner Ski Resort introduces the new Snowbird triple chairlift to replace the original double chair installed in 1971. The new lift will provide improved access to beginner terrain, modern and reliable chairlift technology, and an overall enhanced experience for skiers and riders. Additionally, the resort relocated its Caterpillar Conveyor (C2) near the Ski School Yurt, providing better terrain for beginners before advancing to the Snowbird Lift. Tahoe Donner has added a new PistenBully 400 ParkPro grooming machine that provides lower emissions and better fuel efficiency and will increase the grooming consistency and quality throughout the resort, including its terrain park and park features. At the Cross Country Center, the resort has expanded grooming (with a significant reduction in emissions), new demo and rental equipment, and new wayfinding signage throughout the ski center’s 100+ kilometers of skiable trails.
It’s been a busy summer at ASC Training Center on Donner Summit with year-round Nordic and Biathlon programs, trail improvements on the 25 km Cross Country system, and a major renovation to the Olympic distance Biathlon range. ASC Training Center will host its 3rd Annual Captain Nordic Day on Sat., December 8th in honor of Mark Nadell, aka Captain Nordic. Nadell, who passed away in 2017, was a beloved figure and huge proponent of Nordic skiing in the Tahoe region. In honor of him, everyone skis free on Captain Nordic Day.
Mammoth Mountain has introduced new intro to backcountry clinics, backcountry tours, and a free uphill ticket. The backcountry tours are taught by PSIA instructors and AMGA certified guides and provides an introduction to backcountry travel and safety. Three-hour backcountry tours to Tamarack Lodge will begin at the summit gondola station and end back at Main Lodge. Mammoth’s new uphill policy allows skiers and split boarders an approved uphill travel option during operating hours (with required access ticket) from each of Mammoth’s three base areas (Main, Eagle, and Canyon Lodges). Mammoth continues Canyon Lodge’s $20M renovation this spring that includes two flights of escalators, an expanded entryway, fully remodeled restrooms, enhancements to the parking areas, and a complete remodel of the fourth-floor dining facilities and third-floor guest services area. There are also some great new ways to get to Mammoth with new daily, year-round non-stop service from LA on United (starts Dec. 1); new daily, seasonal non-stop service from Denver on United (starts Dec. 19); and new seasonal non-stop service from Orange County on JetSuiteX.
Big Bear Mountain Resorts (Snow Summit and Bear Mountain) will be introducing the Bear Mountain Adventure Academy, a new 6,000 square-foot learning center in the Bear Mountain base area, an efficient one-stop shop for family rentals, lift tickets, sports school registration, and dining. Big Bear Mountain Resorts are also investing $3.6 million in snowmaking and grooming infrastructure, including new air compressors and water pipelines and two new snowcats, which will improve snowmaking capabilities. The winter season officially gets underway on Sept. 22 with Hot Dawgz & Hand Rails, “the largest winter kickoff party known to man.” Part snowboard competition, part music festival, it features over 50 of the world’s best snowboarders, live performances by the LINE and AWOLNATION, a vendor village, and lift ticket deals. Discounts available for season pass holders, local residents, and active duty military and first responders.
New this season, Mountain High Resorts is unveiling two new snow parks, each with tubing, snow play, and grab-n-go lessons. These areas will serve as an introduction to snow sports with direct conduits to skiing and snowboarding. Guests can slide down 15+ lanes in the tubing park, throw snowballs with the Yeti & friends in the snow play area, or get a taste of skiing and snowboarding in the introductory lesson area where roving instructors are waiting to help. Each lesson participant receives a Bounce Back coupon for $25 Off an Adult Half-Day Lesson Package or Kids Full Day Lesson Package.
Snow Valley Mountain Resort will introduce greatly enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity via America’s fastest satellite internet service, the ViaSat-2 satellite network. Connectivity to email, social media, and the internet at broadband speeds will be made possible by this new, geostationary orbit satellite. Skiers and snowboarders will enjoy quickly sharing pictures and videos on social media of their blockbuster day of shredding run after run from Southern California’s only high-speed, six-person chairlift, Snow Valley Express. The powerful Wi-Fi will be offered in both the Last Run Lounge and Pine Room, where it will complement great food, a full bar, a picturesque wood burning fireplace and expansive windows overlooking the slopes, the Children’s Learning Center, and the lift-served Snow Play area (sledding).
News about California and Nevada resorts will be added to the SkiCalifornia.org Newsroom throughout the season.
About Ski California
The California Ski Industry Association® is a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association representing 32 ski resorts in California and Nevada under the brand Ski California®. Ski California develops and maintains strong relationships with government officials, tourism groups, media, and ski industry leaders to advocate key industry related initiatives, including environmental stewardship, mountain safety, technical training, and public relations. Ski California monitors existing and proposed legislation to ensure that national and state legislators hear and consider the industry perspective on issues affecting mountain communities and businesses. Ski California researches, analyzes and pursues safety while preserving the integrity of mountain sports and the natural environment in which they are enjoyed by millions each year. For more information please visit skicalifornia.org.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, June Mountain, Big Bear, and Mammoth Mountain are just 4 of 36 iconic destinations available on the Ikon Pass.